Debra K. Schuster has practiced Elder and Disability law since 1999, having practiced health law since 1991. Ms. Schuster’s practice focuses on elder law issues, a growing area of law with few experienced practitioners. Ms. Schuster works with and advises social workers, geriatric and care managers, financial planners and accountants, psychiatrists and geriatric physicians about incapacity issues and financial exploitation. Ms. Schuster’s practice focuses on multi-disciplinary collaboration with these professionals to address the complex, myriad age and disability issues her clients face.

Ms. Schuster’s personal experience with her mother and grandfather, both of whom had dementia, has given her insight into the stresses that caregivers and families endure when caring for a loved one with dementia, which led her to become a certified Elder and Adult Mediator. Ms. Schuster assists families with facilitated conversation about difficult end-of-life issues when someone should stop driving, move to assisted living or a skilled nursing facility, delegate financial matters to someone else to high conflict matters involving contested guardianship, financial exploitation and the removal of appointees under Durable Powers of Attorney and trustees.

Ms. Schuster is passionate about volunteering in the community. She is past president of the Breakthrough Coalition, a multidisciplinary group of senior care and disability community providers. She is the past Vice President of Operations for Memory Care Home Solutions, past Board member for Brith Shalom Kneseth Israel, was the Co-chairperson of the BAMSL Elder Law Committee.

Ms. Schuster was a finalist as “Best Lawyer of the Year” in 2016 by St. Louis Magazine and is the “Face of Elder Law” in the June 2017 issue of St. Louis Magazine. Since 2014, Ms. Schuster has been the chairperson of an ad hoc committee of the Missouri Bar Association that has authored proposed legislation for the passage of the Designated Healthcare Decisionmaker Act.

Ms. Schuster is the mother of two wonderful sons, one who is an attorney in Boulder, Colorado and the other who is completing a Masters of Engineering in Biomedical Robotics at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her dog Yadi, is working as a touch therapy dog and can be seen every day at work, where he provides support, comfort and dog toys to Ms. Schuster’s clients. Ms. Schuster listens with empathy and seeks to understand the unique circumstances each of her clients is going through to provide them with the representation, advocacy and advice specific to their individual situation.

         

Areas of Practice

  • Medicare claims and appeals
  • Medicaid planning and Asset protection advice
  • Filing of Medicaid applications and appeals for nursing home, community and home-based benefits
  • Estate Planning, with a focus on end-of-life planning and minimizing financial exploitation
  • Mental Health Law
  • Guardian and Conservatorship Representation
  • Veteran’s benefit advising
  • Special Needs Planning
  • Financial Exploitation
  • Elder and Adult mediation
  • Long-term disability and Long-term care insurance claim filing and appeals

Bar Admissions

  • Missouri, 1991
  • Illinois 1992

Education

  • State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
    • B.A., Physical Anthropology – 1985
  • Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
    • Master in Health Administration– 1987
  • St. Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, Missouri, focus on health and elder law. Co-founder, Public Interest Law Group
    • J.D. – 1991

Published Works

  • Author of a variety of articles pertaining to incapacity planning, ethical issues when representing elderly clients, eligibility for Medicaid nursing home benefits, long-term care insurance claims and appeals, Life Care Planning and Elder Mediation, including “Mediation- A Holistic, Client-Centered Alternative Approach to End-of-Life Treatment Disputes”, (with co-author, Kim Kirn) Life Care Planning Law Firm Association Newsletter, Spring, 2010
  • “The Evolving Practice of Elder Law… Life Care Planning” (with co-author, Wesley Coulson), St. Louis Bar Journal, Vol. 56, No. 4, Spring 2010.
  • “Long-term Care Insurance: How to Interpret Policies and File Claims and Appeals”, The Elder Law Report, Spring, 2016

Classes/Seminars

  • Adjunct Professor, St. Louis University School of Law, Fall, 2009, Administrative Aspects of Elder Law
  • Frequent speaker at:
    • the Annual St. Louis University Geriatric Symposium, for St. Louis ARC, Maryville
    • University Masters in Geriatrics Program
    • UMSL Masters in Geriatric program
    • Brown School of Social Work at Washington University
    • Alzheimer’s Association
    • MS Society

Volunteer Work

  • Member of the Planning Committee, Memory Care Home Solutions
  • Secretary of the Board, VNA of Greater St. Louis
  • Member of the Patient Services Committee
  • Board Member, St. Louis Chapter of the Huntington’s Disease Society
  • Member of the Strategic Planning Committee, Covenant Place

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys national and Missouri chapters
  • The Association of Attorney Mediators
  • The Life Care Planning Law Firm Association
  • State chairperson of ElderLawAnswers
  • Missouri End-of-Life Coalition

Pro Bono Activities

  • The National Council for Jewish Women’s Healing Hearts Bank,
  • Providing micro-loans to members of the Beyond Housing community
  • Volunteer lawyer, County Older Residents’ Program